Virtual Jihad

This is a very interesting story and it offers much to consider. Some highlights.

“Feb. 9 – In recent months, an odd message has popped up on some radical Islamic Web sites. Readers are encouraged to use their computers to advance the cause of jihad. One preferred method touted on these sites: launch a cyberattack by jamming the Web sites and e-mail addresses of the “Zionist enemy.”

“Almost every [Islamic extremist] Web site has a section on how to do jihad over the Internet,” says Rita Katz, the head of the SITE Institute, a group that closely monitors Islamic Web sites. The postings, say Katz, advise would-be holy warriors: “If you can’t do jihad physically, do it on the Internet.”

Not really surprised to read this at all. Cyberterror is something that is relatively easy to execute.

“…the potential organized hackers have for creating serious economic or governmental damage was graphically demonstrated in the fall of 2000 when what he calls a “Middle East cyberwar” broke out. The precipitating event was the capture by Lebanese Shiite fighters of three Israeli soldiers on patrol along their border with Lebanon. After the news broke, hackers penetrated the Web site of the Shiite Hizbullah movement and replaced anti-Israeli video clips with the Israeli flag and a soundtrack of the Israeli national anthem.

The Hizbullah site was then flooded by 9 million Internet “pings” which caused it crash. The sites of several other Islamic groups, including the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, were likewise attacked. An Israeli hacker using the name Polo0 hacked into a Palestinian database and then posted sensitive information about Palestinian leaders, including their cell-phone and fax numbers.”

Since nothing takes place in a vacuum there was a response.

“In retaliation, Islamic hackers launched an electronic counterattack that Geers dubs the “Interfada.” This involved a “very powerful” coalition of pro-Palestinian hackers in both the Middle East and elsewhere around the world, including the United States. The Islamic hackers systematically attacked as many Israeli-based Web sites as they could locate, including the All-Kosher Index of the United Kashrut Authority.

According to Geers, in the first three months of the Middle East cyberwar, the Islamic side gained the upper hand by successfully attacking nearly five times as many Israeli Web sites as the number of Islamic Web sites attacked by pro-Israelis. Geers said the pro-Palestinian hack attacks ultimately extended to targets in the United States, including the Washington based pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC.”

What this helps to reiterate is the message that even here in cyberspace we have the ability to impact the world around us for good or for ill.

The words and actions we take here can manifest themselves into real world actions.

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